Michael D. Brasseur co-founded and is currently serving as the first Commodore of Task Force 59, Commander, Unmanned & A.I. Integration. Task Force 59 is dedicated to the rapid integration of Unmanned Systems and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) into Fleet operations to deter malign activity and secure the free flow of commerce in the waters surrounding the Arabian Peninsula. Prior to standing up Task Force 59, he served as Deputy Commodore of Task Force 55.
Before arriving in Bahrain, Michael served as the Director, for Naval Armaments Cooperation at the U.S. Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the first Director of NATO’s “Start-up” the Maritime Unmanned Systems Innovation & Coordination Cell (MUSIC2). MUSIC2 is the key integrator and accelerator for the NATO MUS Initiative (MUSI) which aims to enhance the Alliance’s capabilities through manned/unmanned teaming. Additionally, he launched and co-chairs the NATO Maritime Unmanned Systems Innovation Advisory Board (IAB) which brings together an incredibly diverse and talented group of innovators, leaders and doers from around the world to provide advice to NATO on how best to improve, accelerate and scale the NATO MUS Initiative.
Michael believes collaboration in diverse cross-functional teams is critical to solving complex challenges and has a history of building winning teams across all levels of government, including the White House, Pentagon and NATO. He has commanded two warships (Fort Worth LCS – 3 & Whirlwind PC – 11) and served on four others (Underwood FFG -36, Samuel B. Roberts FFG 58, Shamal PC – 13 & Deyo DD – 989) and sailed the world’s oceans with friends and Allies.
Michael is a graduate of Vanderbilt University (B.S. Chemistry), George Washington University (M.A. Organizational Management) and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (M.A. International Relations) and is an Honorary Practice Fellow at the Imperial College of London’s Institute for Security Science and Technology. His writings on leadership and emerging disruptive technologies have appeared in The Hill, Atlantic Council, Defense News, and the US Naval Institute among other well-respected publications.
Michael grew up on an island, loves the ocean and is happiest when he is in, on or close to the water. Michael is passionate about protecting our oceans and believes they are primed for innovation.
Sean serves as the Maritime Portfolio Lead at NATO HQ & Director NATO Maritime Unmanned Systems Innovation and Coordination Cell. He is responsible for cohesion of the Maritime Portfolio within Defence Investments at NATO HQ and coordinating the efforts of over 1100 Maritime Subject Matter Experts from Allied Nations to develop Capability and Standards in the Maritime Domain on behalf of the Nations. Sean is identifying opportunities to tackle Alliance capability priorities and fostering multi-national collaboration in acquisition across the full spectrum of military capability. Sean has previously served as the fleet robotics officer of the British Royal Navy, working in the future capability division at Navy Command Headquarters in Portsmouth, England.
Merel Ekelhof is a Senior Project Analyst at the Strategic Engagement and Policy Division of the US DoD Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), where she deals with topics related to law & ethics and international partnerships. She has been seconded by the NL MOD, where she is an AI innovation manager at the Defence Materiel Organization, from September 2020 until September 2022. Before joining the Defense Department, Merel was the lead researcher on Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy at UNIDIR’s (United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research) Security and Technology Programme, a research fellow at the Centre for the Politics of Transnational Law, and she was a visiting researcher at the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (HLS PILAC). She holds a PhD in Law and an LL.M in Law and Politics of International Security from the VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands. Her doctoral research – commissioned by the NLD MoD and MFA – is titled “The Distributed Conduct of War: Reframing Debates on Autonomous Weapons, Human Control and Legal Compliance in Targeting”. Merel has a legal background and specialized in military decision-making through her fieldwork and the completion of several military and civilian courses and exercises with regard to advanced targeting (NATO JFAC certified targeteer), weapons law and the future of targeting.
Julie Angus is the CEO and co-founder of Open Ocean Robotics, a marine drone company that is transforming how we understand and protect our oceans. She is a leading adventurer, bestselling author, scientist and entrepreneur, who was awarded National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year award when she became the first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean from mainland to mainland. She has written three books, produced several documentaries and has a graduate degree in microbiology. She is a serial entrepreneur and also had a successful career in venture capital, business development, and technology transfer. Explore Magazine listed her as one of North America’s leading adventurers and Canadian Geographic named her one of Canada’s Greatest Women Explorers. Julie is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society and recipient of numerous awards including the University of Victoria Distinguished Alumni Award and McMaster University Young Alumni Award.
Josh Wells is the founder and CEO of Planck Aerosystems, Inc. He previously served in the U.S. Navy as a helicopter pilot, flight instructor, and staff officer. During his time in the Navy, Josh deployed in support of counter-narcotics operations in South America, counter-piracy in the Horn of Africa, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Josh led the effort to safely and effectively integrate unmanned aircraft into carrier strike group operations and training, including initial operational deployments of the Firescout unmanned shipboard helicopter before leaving active duty in 2014. Josh founded Planck to enable the broad adoption of unmanned aircraft in the maritime environment, and he has led product definition, market strategy, and venture fundraising efforts in support of the growth of the company. Planck’s products are currently deployed in five U.S. federal agencies, two NATO member nation agencies, and commercially in six countries. Josh holds a bachelor’s degree in naval architecture from the United States Naval Academy and a master’s degree in product development from the University of Southern California. Josh is a non-profit board member at AUVSI and TMA Blue Tech (formerly The Maritime Alliance).
Mildred Troegeler is the Director, Global Airspace Integration for Boeing NeXt, the business division building the ecosystem that will define the future of urban, regional and global mobility. By combining technological innovation with nontraditional partnerships ranging from start-ups to corporations, NeXt lays the foundation for a next-generation mobility ecosystem. A lawyer by training, she is an internally recognized regulatory leader in the areas of aviation safety, cybersecurity, airspace management and autonomous systems integration. Leading a global team, she sees innovation as a byproduct of culture and diversity of thought – innovation comes from how we think about a problem, dissect it, and attack it in ways we have not thought of before. Previously, Mildred served as the first female General Manager Technical & Operations at the Association of European Airlines and she shaped space policies at the United Nations as a legal advisor to the German Space Agency.
Sarah Traverso’s marketing career began at APR Consulting, where she learned the financial side of the commercial filmmaking industry. While there, Sarah worked on national campaigns for the Coors Brewing Company. Later, as an Agency Executive Producer (Deutsch LA, JWT, Fitzgerald), she produced ads for Old Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, and Coca-Cola. In 2010, Sarah was recruited by The Coca-Cola Company, where she is currently Group Director over Multi-Media Production and The Social Center, N.A. As Head of The Social Center at Coca-Cola, Sarah leads an in-house social agency of 60+ people tasked with listening, analytics, strategy, creative development, content capture, community management, and media buying for top brands across all social platforms. As Head of Multi-Media Production, Sarah leads a team tasked with producing content across the entire Coca-Cola portfolio; this includes all film production, digital & interactive, radio, experiential, and print. If there is one thing that sets Sarah apart, it is her ability to work closely with the creative teams that define the brand. In that sense, she prides herself as a creative that works closely with Coca-Cola’s brand team and agencies.
João Tasso de Figueiredo Borges de Sousa is a Professor at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department from Porto University in Portugal and the head of the Laboratório de Sistemas e Tecnologia Subaquática – LSTS (Underwater Systems and Technologies Laboratory). He holds a PhD and an MSc in Electrical Engineering, both awarded by the University of Porto. His research interests include autonomous underwater, surface and air vehicles, planning and execution control for networked vehicle systems, optimization and control, cyber-physical systems, and applications of networked vehicle systems to the ocean sciences, security, and defense. He received the BES Innovation National Award for the design of the Light Autonomous Underwater Vehicle in 2006, an outstanding teaching award from Porto University in 2008 and the IEEE Ocean Engineering Society mid-career Rising Star award in 2018. João has been organizing the annual Recognized Environmental Picture (REP) exercise in cooperation with the Portuguese Navy since 2010. In 2019, REP (MUS) became the flagship operational experiment exercise for the NATO Maritime Unmanned Systems Initiative.
Peter Warren Singer is Strategist at New America. He has been named by the Smithsonian as one of the nation’s 100 leading innovators, by Defense News as one of the 100 most influential people in defense issues, and by Foreign Policy to their Top 100 Global Thinkers List. Peter has served as an advisor to the U.S. military, intelligence community, and State Department, and he is the author of multiple best-selling, award winning books. His non-fiction books are Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry, Children at War, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century; Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know, and LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media. He is also the creator with August Cole of a novel type of novel, using the format of a technothriller to communicate research. These include Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War and Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution.
Keit has served Estonia as a Member of Parliament since 2007 and has been re-elected since. She regularly affects positive change in cyber defense and climate policy as well as in digital innovation. In 2019, she was elected as the Deputy Chair of the biggest political party group in the Estonian Parliament. Furthermore, Keit was the first female appointed as Minister of Environment. During her mandate, she initiated Estonia’s first climate policy framework and was active in preparing the Paris Climate Agreement. Keit was one of the four EU Foreign Ministers who initiated the creation of the European Strategic Communication Unit that started to focus on Russia propaganda, info-operations, and disinformation campaigns. As a Minister of Foreign Affairs, she initiated (joined by the Foreign Ministers of UK, Denmark, Lithuania) the new entity in the EU that concentrates on countering disinformation and fake news from Russia.
Emily Mintman is a Project Manager for the TANG (Tactical Advancements for the Next Generation) Program at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, leveraging human-centered design methods to solve complex challenges for the U.S. Department of Defense. Emily leads diverse teams through designing and developing solutions to address warfighter and sponsor needs. Emily believes in the power of empathy for solving complex problems. Designing the best solutions starts with putting yourself in the shoes of the user to gain insight into their needs rather than approaching the problem with your own assumptions and solutions. Emily has worked on a variety of projects, navigating challenges including understanding toughness in the United States Navy and measuring proficiency of maritime tacticians. Currently, Emily is leading an effort to explore the future helicopter cockpit experience for the United States Marine Corps. Emily earned her MBA from Johns Hopkins University and her Masters in Design Leadership from Maryland Institute College of Art.
Vince is a Managing Partner at Gartner, Inc, where he assists senior executives to navigate the rapid pace of change in the information technology (IT) ecosystem. In 2009, Vince founded The McBeth Group International, a defense and technology consulting firm. As President, he solidified his role as a trusted voice on federal government affairs, organizational change, and IT transformation. From the White House to the U.S. departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense, and Navy, Vince has served as a senior official and advisor at the highest levels of government. A career naval officer, Vince commanded two U.S. warships and completed tours of duty in five other cruisers, destroyers, and frigates. Vince holds a Master of Arts from The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University; a Master of Science from the National War College; and a Bachelor of Science from the United States Naval Academy.
Camille is a former merger & acquisitions director with over a decade of experience at BNP Paribas and Rabobank in corporate and investment banking internationally. She worked on PPP projects, restructuring mandates and M&A deals in different sectors, mainly in the energy industry and later on food-chain problematics. In 2016, she changed the course of her career from finance to the entertainment industry (specifically theater) and has been appointed company manager for the next Lion King musical production in Paris. She recently wrote, co-directed, and acted in an original play, “Abîm(é)es,” garnering nominations in four categories at Cours Florent acting school. Camille has a very international profile, having spent most of her career outside of her home country of France.
Amir Husain is a serial entrepreneur, inventor, technologist, and author based in Austin, Texas. He is the Founder and CEO of an award-winning artificial intelligence company, SparkCognition, and is the founding CEO of SkyGrid, a Boeing and SparkCognition joint venture that is building an aerial operating system to power the next century of aviation. Amir has been awarded 27 U.S. patents and has several pending applications. Amir’s work has been featured in world-leading outlets such as Forbes, Fox Business News, and Proceedings from the U.S. Naval Institute. He is the author of the best-selling book “The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence” and a co-author of the compilation “Hyperwar: Conflict and Competition in the AI Century.”
Skip is NATO’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General for the Defense Investment Division. He previously served as Director of Operations, U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, and as Director of Operations and Intelligence for SHAPE in Mons, Belgium, before retiring from the U.S. Army as a Major General. Skip’s professional life has been characterized by operational and institutional military assignments interspersed with study and practice of international affairs and defense issues, primarily in Europe. Most of Skip’s career has been dedicated to NATO and European defense, including numerous assignments and operations with U.S., NATO, and UN forces in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Central Asia. Skip brings an unusual depth of practical experience and conceptual understanding of contemporary and emerging defense issues as well as executive-level experience in operations, intelligence, leader development, capability development, and policy development. Skip holds an undergraduate degree in nuclear physics and graduate degrees in international business, defense and military history, and strategic studies.
Prof Chana has extensive experience leading STEM programs and initiatives in academia, industry and government (the ‘triple helix’). He is currently the Co-Director of the Institute for Security Science Technology at Imperial College, London, and the founder and director of a technology development consultancy specializing in critical-infrastructure and smart-city applications. Amongst other active projects, he is the co-founder of the UK-Government funded Research Institute in Trustworthy Industrial Control Systems on cyber-security at Imperial and leads a collaboration on the security of cyber-physical systems in critical infrastructure with investigators in Singapore. Professor Chana is currently involved in several successful commercial technology projects in the SME sector. In a previous role, Professor Chana worked as a senior technology-policy official in the UK government where he led the delivery of the Department for Transport’s security and resilience technology mission; overseeing a wide-ranging STEM research and development portfolio; setting currently active national-security government policy and leading numerous STEM diplomacy engagements for the UK. Professor Chana holds MSci and PhD degrees in Physics from King’s College London.
Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux is a technology investor and entrepreneur passionate about advancing national security and innovation and building better futures at scale. She is the co-founder of Global Space Ventures, which invests across emerging technology domains from AI to biotech, and an early investor in the commercial space sector (including SpaceX). She was also co-founder of Escape Dynamics whose beamed energy technology was added onto NASA’s technology roadmap in 2015 and featured in Scientific American as a “World Changing Idea.” Earlier in her career, she advised on over $8 billion in M&A at Goldman Sachs which she joined in 1999, then served as founding principal at TPG-Axon and partner in Renaissance Technologies’ Mendocino fund, before founding her own investment firm, and being awarded the Institutional Investor “Rising Star” award. Laetitia also serves on the board of the XPRIZE which leverages large scale incentive prizes to catalyze radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. She also serves on the board of the National Museum of Mathematics, on the advisory board of the Truman National Security Project, and as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Economic Club of New York. A graduate from Harvard Business School and native French speaker, her 20+ year career spans the US, Europe and Asia.
Ajay is the Senior Vice President, Corporate Development at Idemia Identity and Security USA, a $3 billion worldwide provider of digital and physical identity management technology. Based in the heart of Silicon Valley, he has served as a founder or cofounder of highly successful companies such as YOU Technology Inc. (an artificial intelligence software provider that he sold to The Kroger Company, NYSE: KR) and CLEAR, the still-private commercial provider of biometrically-enabled fast lanes through airport security. After leading an IPO of a Silicon Valley-based freight logistics company in 2002 (Pacer International, which was subsequently acquired by XPO Logistics, NYSE: XPO), Ajay served in the White House post-9/11 as a Senior Policy Advisor and White House Fellow to the Department of Homeland Security’s first leader, Secretary Thomas J. Ridge. Just prior to his current role at Idemia, he served as a contractor to the US Department of Defense, launching it’s first-ever unit in Silicon Valley, Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). For over 2 years, Ajay served as its Director of Commercial Engagement and also a Commercial Executive focused on its Autonomous Systems portfolio. In this role, Ajay worked closely with warfighters to field asymmetric air, land, and sea-based autonomous systems from hundreds of leading commercial technology companies that have raised over $10 billion in private venture capital financing.